DETROIT, Mar. 7, 2019 — Michigan elementary and middle schools are invited to apply for Building Healthy Communities, a public-private initiative designed to fight obesity and improve childhood health through school-based wellness programming. Building Healthy Communities, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, is an evidence-based, comprehensive, school-wide initiative that supports children’s health by providing students, teachers and administrators with tools and resources to improve student health while creating a healthier school environment.
Over the last ten years, students participating in the Building Healthy Communities programming have reported positive outcomes including, eating 40 percent more fruits and vegetables than the national average for six to 11-year-olds, 19 minutes less screen and video time per day and 35 additional minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. An eight-month study of the program by Wayne State University also reported reductions in measures of obesity among 628 fifth graders in six schools throughout Michigan. The University of Michigan reports improved nutrition and physical activity behaviors associated with sustained improvements in known cardiovascular risk factors in students in participating schools. “We’re thrilled to celebrate Building Healthy Communities’ 10th anniversary and another year of having the opportunity to improve the health and well-being of Michigan students across the state,” said Lynda Rossi, executive vice president of Strategy, Government and Public Affairs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “Like our partners, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan continues to prioritize the need for resources that make it easy for children to eat healthier and be more active throughout the school day and beyond.” Robert Gordon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said, “We are excited to join the Building Healthy Communities Partnership in celebrating 10 years of supporting Michigan schools in their efforts to create healthy school climates. The department joined this partnership five years ago to help promote healthy eating and physical activity among Michigan’s children. We look forward to another year of creating a culture of health for students and teachers throughout our state.” Our Center for Health and Community Impact is extremely excited to enter the 10th anniversary of Building Healthy Communities. It's been a privilege working with so many dedicated teachers, administrators and school personnel across Michigan to spearhead healthier schools,” said Dr. Nate McCaughtry, Director of the Center for Health and Community Impact at Wayne State University. "The results are clear and data-driven, students being educated at Building Health Community schools get more exercise, eat better, decrease obesity levels, and achieve better in their academic performance. This program changes lives.” “We’ve had an unhealthy environment in terms of nutritional choices and opportunities for exercise for quite some time, and that’s been reflected in many middle schools. Now, we are creating an environment in each school where health and healthy choice are celebrated,” said Michigan Medicine cardiologist Kim Eagle, M.D., A. Walter Hewlett Professor of Internal Medicine, director of the Frankel Cardiovascular Center and co-founder of Project Healthy Schools. “We have shown that by implementing a health curriculum in middle schools and creating school environments that make the healthy choice the easy choice, we can make sustained improvements in children's health. This is what the Building Healthy Communities program is doing and the University of Michigan is happy to be a partner.” Sharon Toth, CEO of the United Dairy Industry of Michigan, said, “Building Healthy Communities is a wonderful opportunity to bring partners and resources together to build a healthier tomorrow for our students. Michigan’s dairy farmers are excited to support programming that empowers students to eat healthy, get active and serve as leaders in their school environment.” Building Healthy Communities, created by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan in 2009, is supported by multiple statewide organizations, including the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Michigan Department of Education, the Michigan Fitness Foundation, Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Team Nutrition, United Dairy Industry of Michigan, University of Michigan, Wayne State University Center for Health and Community Impact and Action for Healthy Kids, working together to address childhood obesity, create healthy school environments and teach kids healthy habits that can be carried into adulthood. Over 340,000 students in more than 750 Michigan schools have been reached through Building Healthy Communities and 158 schools started the program last year. There are three programs available through Building Healthy Communities to help meet the needs of Michigan schools for the 2019-2020 school year. Interested schools are encouraged to review full program descriptions and application information at www.bcbsm.com/buildhealth. Applications are currently being accepted for the Building Healthy Communities: Elementary School Program and Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools.
- Building Healthy Communities: Elementary School Program - Applications will be accepted until 5 p.m. on April 27, 2019. Interested schools can also join an informational conference call at 10 a.m. Mar. 15, 2019. To join, call 641-715-0688 and enter pass code 517761#.
- Building Healthy Communities: Engaging Middle Schools through Project Healthy Schools - Applications will be accepted through 5 p.m. on Mar. 22, 2019. Interested schools can watch a recorded webinar at projecthealthyschools.org/BHC.
For more information on Building Healthy Communities or to apply for any of the programs, visit bcbsm.com/buildhealth. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit mutual insurance company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCBSM provides and administers health benefits to more than 4.6 million members residing in Michigan in addition to employees of Michigan-headquartered companies who reside outside the state. In 2018, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan received the J.D. Power Award for “Highest Member Satisfaction Among Commercial Health Plans in Michigan.” For more company information, visit bcbsm.com and MiBluesPerspectives.com.